DC Casebook: Housing: New Build - Long-term disuse points to abandonment

In a redetermined appeal, an inspector has rejected a proposal to replace a bungalow in the Kent countryside destroyed by fire in 1990 after deciding that it is contrary to development plan policy.

The site was outside the built-up area and a local plan policy stated that development would be permitted only for rebuilding dwellings currently in residential use. There was no suggestion that the bungalow was not occupied at the time of the fire but it was uninhabitable thereafter. On that basis, the inspector agreed that it could not be regarded as a dwelling.

The main parties' arguments focused on whether or not residential use of the site had been abandoned. The inspector had regard to the tests set out in Hughes v Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions and South Holland District Council [2000]. She acknowledged that the fire appeared to have been an unfortunate accident and there had been no intervening use.

Although a number of applications had been made subsequently, she observed that no attempt had been made to reinstate the residential use until 2001, 11 years after the fire. On this basis, she was not satisfied that there was a clear intention to continue residential use after the fire and concluded that it had been abandoned. Even if she had reached a different view, she added, this would not outweigh the conflict with the development plan.

DCS Number 100-069-052

Inspector Claire Sherratt; Written representations.

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